TUCSON – “The mistake that I made I made by myself. It has put on a huge damper on my advancement and I just have to live with that.”
He’s on the list no cop wants to be on. The Brady list is comprised of police officers, deputy sheriffs and civilian law enforcement agency employees who have been found to have been dishonest during their career. The 38-year old who spoke with the News 4 Tucson Investigators without being identified, is a five-year veteran of a law enforcement agency in Pima County. He is on the Brady list because one-day last summer when he was off-duty, his sergeant called and asked him where he was. He gave the wrong location. We asked him why. “To this day I can’t answer that question,” he said. “I said the first thing that came to my mind.” He’s angry that he got put on the Brady list for it. “It was just a mistake and I had no intention of doing it,” he said.
Minutes later, the officer told his sergeant his real location, but the damage was done. In February, he found out he was on the Brady list.
Jason Kreag, a UA law professor and former criminal defense attorney, said, “For law enforcement officers who are on the list, it could be career ending. It certainly could undermine their prospects for advancement. If they make a mistake and lie on a police report, or lie when they’re under oath, then we should know that. And everyone should know that and criminal defendants who are investigated by that officer going forward have a constitutional right to know that.”
The Brady list stems from a 1963 Supreme Court ruling that the prosecution must turn over to the defense evidence that could be favorable to a defendant, including false statements previously made by police officers.
Jonathan Mosher, Chief Trial Counsel in the Pima County Attorney’s Office said, “All the Brady list is, is it relates to, is there something that we’ve got to give the defense because it might help their case?”
The News 4 Tucson Investigators obtained the latest Pima County Brady List from the County Attorney’s Office (which now refers to it as the “Law Enforcement Activity Disclosure”) through a public records request, as anyone can. Two-hundred and fifty-four officers are on it. Many are retired. The county sheriff’s department, which has 1500 employees, has 130 on Brady, 16 are active.
Sheriff Mark Napier said, “Of the 16 people on that list, not a single person is on the list because of untruthfulness related to court testimony. It’s more administrative untruthfulness that we uncover and then we proactively disclose”
Out of Tucson Police Department’s 882 employees, 94 are on the list. According to TPD, nine are active. Chief Chris Magnus was recently quoted by the Marshall Project, a non-profit news organization that covers the criminal justice system, as saying, “If I had my way, officers who lie wouldn’t just be put on a list, they’d be fired, and also not allowed to work in any other jurisdiction as a police officer ever again.”
Jim Parks, Executive Director of Arizona Cops, a union with 2600 members throughout the state, said, “Everybody makes mistakes. I mean it’s only fair, an officer should still have due process rights.”
Parks is asking the legislature next session to establish a law requiring seven days notification to officers before they’re put on the Brady list. “We’ve had officers that didn’t know they were on the list until they were in court,” Parks said. “Every citizen out there in the country has due process rights. But just because you put on a uniform and a badge doesn’t mean that goes away.”
The chief prosecutor in St. Louis, Kim Gardner, recently dropped more than 100 cases that relied on statements from 29 officers on the Brady list. Gardner said, “I will not jeopardize the integrity of the criminal justice system by allowing the concerning actions of a small number of police officers to taint the good work of the credible and hardworking officers.”
Regarding Gardner’s decision, Mosher said, “I find that surprising. We confront this all the time as prosecutors in court. We might have a witness who does drugs, we might have a witness who has a felony conviction. Imagine if we were to just drop an important case just because there’s impeachment of a witness.”
Napier said his deputies should, “Simply tell the truth. I mean we take an oath and we’re empowered to take somebody’s liberty based upon our oath.”
The officer we spoke with said, “I love being an officer. I just don’t want to get it in my mind that I kind of have to look for something else.”
We requested an interview with Chief Magnus several times over the past five weeks regarding his reported remarks but were told by police spokesmen that he was, “not available” every time.
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